Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I was raised in a home filled with art and beautiful colored glass objects. Beauty was everywhere exalted.’

East Meadow

“I grew up in East Meadow, and I consider where I grew up as my spot in the world. I was raised in a home filled with art and beautiful colored glass objects. Beauty was everywhere exalted. My mother transformed spaces with her creations. Even the mermaids she’d sculpt on Jones Beach were spectacular.

“Always an artist and writer, my mother Betty preferred figurative work, versus my preference for abstract. She was a ‘humanist expressionist.’ I was blessed with two creative, erudite, accomplished parents as my role models. Mom took me to every museum and gallery exhibition and gave me an art history education.

“When I went to Vassar for my undergraduate degree, I took art history and studio art courses. Mom was always urging me to pursue art and would enter my work in art shows — without my knowledge — and then announce to me that I won an award or was accepted in a show, including at the Firehouse Gallery, where only adults were supposed to be accepted. We exhibited together in Greenwich Village at Le Figaro Café while she was also showing at a gallery in SoHo.

I am currently a member of Huntington’s B.J. Spoke Gallery and represented by the West Hempstead Sunflower Fine Art Galleries.

“I attended the Art Students League in NYC with her as a teenager, and she asked Marshall Glasier what he thought of my potential, and he said that there was no limit to what I could achieve.

“At the age of 80, Mom’s health began to decline. She suffered through a house fire, a major car accident, open heart surgery, major dental infection, rheumatoid arthritis and then a vascular neurological disease. I took charge of Mom’s care, and that included hiring a licensed and recommended art therapist to help her express herself. I took up painting again after 25 years.

“Four years later, I won two national awards and have since built up a reputation as an exciting and accomplished original fine abstract artist on Long Island, and nationally, even winning awards in international juried exhibitions.

“I am currently a member of Huntington’s B.J. Spoke Gallery and represented by the West Hempstead Sunflower Fine Art Galleries. I have been a copywriter and marketing communications director and briefly a high school teacher and adjunct professor, and now I am happiest as an artist … My mother was right!”

‘Running bases, stealing, feeling like you’re playing baseball again.’

East Meadow

“I was always a baseball fan growing up. I got it from my dad, who took me to Yankees games since ’95. About eight years ago, I was at Bethpage [Old Bethpage Village Restoration], and I happened to see some guys playing old-timey baseball. I ended up speaking to one of the guys. He got me coming down, and then after the first or second time, I was hooked right away.

“We try and keep true to the game … What they would wear at the time and even the field we play on is authentic … It’s gorgeous. Everybody that plays there is like, ‘Oh, we love this field.’ It’s just a grass field, but that’s all they played on at that point in time.

You know, it’s like a childish thing, but it’s a great time. And the community is so wonderful and amazing.

“Anywhere they could play, they would. But here is different; you know, it’s inclusive. We just want everyone to have fun. If someone’s new, we always tell them, ‘Please, please come down. Never be scared.’ We’re always very welcoming.

“Everybody kind of just gets nicknames. None of them are just handed out. You know, the one guy, his nickname is Dirt, and one of his first times playing, he just fell and rolled around in the dirt. Another guy’s name is Crawler, because he tripped trying to get to the ball and he had to crawl.

“Every time we play the Brooklyn Atlantics – our quote-unquote rival, but they’re our friends really – after a game, no matter who wins, we hang out and we talk, you know? It’s nice to be able to play against your friends and still be friends after the game.

“Running bases, stealing, feeling like you’re playing baseball again – they call it ‘the child’s game,’ and you do feel like a little kid, just smiling, running around and chasing after a ball.

“You know, it’s like a childish thing, but it’s a great time. And the community is so wonderful and amazing.”

‘Being more observant helps me see how others my age can do what’s right.’

East Meadow

“I love learning about the government and the way our country works. I was taking a law class when I was in the ninth grade. My teacher knew the person running the Nassau County Peer Diversion Court. I waited a few months after applying, and then found out I was accepted to be a part of it! The program is run for kids under 18 at the actual Hempstead courts through the Nassau County Probation Court. We learned how to become advocates for the kids that come through the program because they know what they did is wrong and they’re trying to learn from their mistakes.

If teenagers are considering joining a program like this, I would tell them to just go for it.

“We don’t see any violent cases that have weapons; maybe somebody stole something little and they were caught, or they might have gotten in a small fight. We don’t prove guilt or innocence. After their trials, they get to come back, sit on the jury, listen to other people’s cases and help themselves learn from it. Sometimes they get 30 hours of community service, or they might have to write letters of apology. The punishments are really just ways for them to learn from their mistakes.

“The program is very exciting, and I have learned a lot from doing it. I love to help people, and it’s really beneficial to see these kids come out better people. They see how to do the right thing. I feel like I have personally become a better person because of being an advocate, too. Now I pay attention to more things around me. Being more observant helps me see how others my age can do what’s right.

“I go to East Meadow High School, but the advocates are from all over Nassau County. The respondents are also from all over Nassau County. Once you graduate from the program as an advocate, you can even come back to see cases, and you can learn more about how the system works. I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but now I know I definitely want to be in the law field, maybe as a judge or an attorney. If teenagers are considering joining a program like this, I would tell them to just go for it. When I joined, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, but now, after doing it a number of months, I really love it.”